Saturday, May 29, 2010


Writing the Green Corn segments into Aurora Rescue has become a compulsion. I am spending almost every waking minute not committed to something or somewhere else sitting on my backside with my laptop perched on my knees. My legs get cold (Yes, I know it is late May, but it has been a cold spring.), my feet get numb and I eat without tasting my food, only half-mindful that I need to keep crumbs away from my keyboard. All not good except for the creative surges flowing from my brain to my keyboard.

The more I write the Green Corn story, the more I love it. I loved the longer Green Willow story that will go in Andrea's book, Aurora Remembrance, but this new segment is a golden addition to Rescue. So exciting! It resolves one of the criticisms from some of my readers who wanted more action.

Unfortunately, I am back up to 109,505 words and I have a few hundred words to go to finish Green Corn. Aargh!

I guess I better plan on doing a little cutting, trimming and alteration on the upcoming Kezia dressmaking section (pun intended) to stay under 110,000 words.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Little Fine-Tuning

I hate it when a document that I have saved in 2 or 3 places disappears in the great electronic beyond. That is what happened to my solar cycle chart. So, I went back on the internet and found a site that had that chart.

However, I decided to also copy the information into another document and combine it with other records of aurora sightings and documented atmospheric electrical events. It was then I noticed my mistake.

My Green Corn scene was set in a year that I guessed might be a year of a solar cycle high. After looking at my chart again, I realized I had actually set it in a year that was probably a solar cycle low. I do not have a record of the solar highs back that far in time, only a record of the start of each solar cycle. I had to go to more modern years to figure out the average time a solar high occurs after the start of a solar cycle, then extrapolate it to the earlier years.

What that ended up meaning to Aurora Rescue is, I need to set my Green Corn, and, therefore, my Maggie Grimsby story, 3 to 4 years later than where I have them now. it was back to my research books and papers to find out what was happening then.

So, the Green Corn story is basically the same. It even has some of the same historical information. It just needed a little "fine-tuning" to get it set four years later in time.

Last Saturday I reviewed my research; today I did the rewrites to the chapter. On to fine-tuning Maggie's story.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Paste, Paste -- Whoops!

Got that word count right down to acceptable numbers today. 106,648, and still editing.

How did I cut that much? Simple. I wrote this book a chapter at a time, one chapter equals one document. Then I combined groups of chapters into sections. Once I finished all my chapters and all four of my sections. I made one GIANT book-length file by combining all the sections. But, I made one eensy-weensy mistake. As I did the copy and paste for section three into the book-length file, I hit the "paste" twice.

Now that I have taken the second "paste" out, it dropped my manuscript from the 130,321 words (most recent count prior) down to 106,648.

Not the prolific writer I thought I was.

I can live with that. It puts me in the safe zone between 90,000 and 110,000 words. Now, I just need to finish my edit for the rest of the book and work on those queries to prospective agents.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Going Green

Green Willow? Green Corn? Both are names I have given to two of my Native American characters.

Green Willow is the name I gave to my Anasazi medicine woman of Chaco Canyon in 1054 A.D. Green Corn is the name of my Lenni Lenape woman in Western Pennsylvania in June 1744.

I guess I like green.

Actually, I pulled Green Willow's story out to use in Book 4, Aurora Remembrance, and I may change her name. I like her story too much to have cut it down to nothing to make it fit into my novel's word count parameters. Even as I wrote it, but for the word count, I wanted to expand this story.

Green Corn has her name in honor of the ceremony that was practiced in the spring by the Lenni Lenape. There is a reason for her name, so it stays.

The tribes lived on opposite sides of the continent, but had much in common.

1.) They were both agrarian societies, with the women responsible for growing the food crops.

2.) Like most Native American agrarian societies, the clans were matrilineal and matrilocular. The women were the heads of their families and the clans. When couples married, the husband either moved in with the wife, or visited the home of the wife but continued to live with his own clan. The women owned their homes and crop lands. Their children belonged to their clans, not to the clans of their husbands.

Men and women had different responsibilities. However, they were much more equal in status than women in either patriarchal Native American societies (more predominate in hunter-gatherer tribes) or the European societies of the Americas until within the last century.

The war chiefs were generally promoted based on ability. However, the tribal chiefs (sachems in the eastern tribes) who governed and negotiated treaties with the Europeans were selected either by virtue of their descent from the women of their clan or they were chosen by the clan matriarchs. The women spoke at the tribal councils and occasionally served as a chief.

In the eastern tribes especially, the women did not worry about themselves or their children being abused by their husbands. If a husband beat his wife, he had to deal with revenge from the men of her clan. Parents did not strike their children, but corrected them verbally. The most physical form of child discipline known was to dump a bowl of cold water on a child's head.

I imagine there will be several Christian readers, including members of my own faith, who will not appreciate the attitude Green Corn has towards the Bible. However, I have tried to be historically accurate.

Most Christian sects of the day used the Bible to oppress women to a secondary status, claiming the Adam and Eve story dealt with Eve's sexual seduction of Adam. To overcome this supposed female weakness, women were to be submissive to men. They must obey their husbands. Women had limited property rights and very little recourse to abuse. They had no active voice in government or religious affairs.

During the 17th and 18th centuries in North America, many women (especially indentured servants who were often treated like slaves) who survived being captured by the northeastern American tribes, preferred to be adopted into the tribe rather than return to "civilized" Christian society. Many chose to live with the greater freedom and status women enjoyed among the Native Americans.

I think it was all summed up well in Marty's thoughts after she heard Green Corn's story:

"Marty was stunned into silence, unsure what to say. She dare not explain that where she comes from, it is mostly a Christian society. Women have a voice in their family and government affairs. They do own land and they have as many rights as men. Society is very much opposed to any kind of abuse. But then, Marty realized, it has not always been that way. Women had to struggle many years to claim their rights. She knew the nation was already making plans for a big celebration of the 250 year anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in two years. Yet, she was a freshman in high school in 2020 when the nation celebrated the centennial of women gaining the right to vote.... "


Well, I THOUGHT I finished my novel. I thought I was moving into the editing stage. Instead, it feels like I am making alterations. It is kind of like taking an old coat made of thick velvet and trimming and changing pieces around to create an elegant evening gown.

First, I turned the "Eddie" backstory in Chapter 3 into a prologue. One of my new readers (Others I have not heard from, yet.) said she did not like it. The prologue version was her first introduction to the novel. She (a) had trouble grasping Cy and Marty as the main characters, and (b) had trouble wondering who Eddie was and how he fit in the story.

Part of the reason for the prologue was to keep the reader wondering about Eddie and Andrea. But, even though they show up again in the book, this particular story is not mostly about them. Based on that, I decided to put the book back the way I had it and introduce Marty and Cy first. They are the ones for whom I want the reader to develop the strongest emotional attachment.

So, I took out the Green Willow story and knocked my book from 148,004 words down to 128,577. Take out the Eddie backstory and add the prologue and a new chapter with Green Corn, and I was back up to 135,337. Not doing well on cutting that novel down to its goal of 110,000-120,000 words. Umm-umm! However, by going through and editing, I have knocked it down to a marvelous 133,580 words.

I think I can do some serious word reduction on the transition chapter between Chimney Rocks and Smithburg Station. Plus, one of my readers strongly hinted that (speaking of dress-making) while all the information on sewing Marty's new pre-Civil War era clothing was interesting to her, it was a bit much. I need to be not so revealing on the clothing, so to speak. That will cut more words.

I am going to get this word count down to where, if this novel could be compared to an evening gown, it will cling in all the right flattering places rather than hang like a gunny sack.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Momentous Day

Today has been a momentous day in several respects.

First, I cut Section 2, "First People", out of the book. Marty is going to be going to only one part of North America in this book. That cut my work count down to 129,906. Whoo-hoo, only 9,000 to 19,000 more words to cut (note the sarcasm).

Next, I started on redoing the front of the novel. I have always liked prologues. I took a section of flashback from Chapter 3 and turned it into a prologue. I like what it did for the novel. (enthusiastic whoo-hoo.) But, unfortuately, that added a few hundred words. (That's a boo-hoo.)

As for the section I cut out of this book, I realized where I can use it. It will no longer be effective as a place for Marty to visit, but it will be great in Book 4, Aurora Remembrance. Just need a character name change. That means that section, along with another chapter that I already wrote when I was in that research mode several months ago, puts Book 4 at one-quarter finished already. (happy dance whoo-hoo)

Last, my new Toshiba laptop with 10-key, web-cam and Window 7 came in. Probably the most important feature was the keyboard cover I purchased extra. $20 seems like a lot for a molded piece of soft plastic. However, I eat and sleep at the keyboard some days. I think the reason my current laptop keeps skipping and sticking is because of food crumbs under the keys. Hopefully, this will help.

How soon will I transfer my files over? Who knows? It takes forever to set up a new computer. Probably the first file to go will be my spreadsheet with prospective agents. It will be so nice to have the 10-key for entering phone numbers and dates. (great big whoo-hoo!)

In the meantime, I have gone over the prologue and chapters 1-3 today, just whittling away at that word count the best I can.